Tag Archive | suffering

Dreaming God’s way..

It was hard finding a title for this post. Dreaming is very important in the kingdom of God. He gives us the capacity to dream and imagine. But dreaming our own dreams and letting God give us dreams.. these are two different things. The reason I am writing about this today is because the Lord is dealing with some big issues in me that have to do with dreaming. For most of my life, I have let dreams be a way of escaping pain and suffering. It started in childhood. I was very unhappy with my family and there were many reasons why. I am not going to go into it here, but I needed a way out.. so I dreamed of this perfect life.. a perfect family. One very different from my own.

Unfortunately the path I took to get that perfect life failed. I had relationships with men that were unhealthy and eventually ended up marrying an abusive addict.. but when he passed away.. the dream of a better life was still alive and I married Steve. He was a wonderful man and I had many of the things in my life that I thought were lost forever. If you have been following my blog, then you know that Steve also passed away.. last summer. I lost everything when he got sick and I no longer had that wonderful life that I cherished. It was not a perfect life and for most of our marriage we had financial problems .. there was no real stability.. so I filled my head with dreams of the day when I would get that last piece and live happily every after. Instead Steve became ill with dementia and things became more and more difficult.

Now that he is gone, I am alone and sure enough.. the old dreams came back.. dreaming of another chance to have that life that would be close to perfect.. funny how that could sneak in even at my age! This time, the Lord has stopped me from dreaming.. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t get another chance.. it just means that He is teaching me to be in the pain and suffering without trying to escape through dreaming. He is helping me to live in the present and be content with not knowing what the future holds. I believe that this is how He is teaching me to rely more deeply on Him. My old dreams are gone but He can give me new ones when it is time and more importantly He is enabling me to believe that everything He has prepared for me is going to be better than my dreams.. It is actually very freeing not to be dreaming and to realize that this season is teaching me so much about our Great God.

I have always loved this scripture.. but finally I feel as though I truly understand it

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

The Rabbit Hole

The title of this post is drawn from a picture that I saw in my head about grief. Of course it is related to Alice In Wonderland. After googling rabbit hole and grief I came across a movie made in 2010 called “Rabbit Hole”. I never saw the movie but I know it is about a couple who lose a child and the grief they experienced after the loss.. it sounds almost too sad for me right now.

The reason for rabbit hole is that after Alice fell down the hole, she was in a different world and that is the experience of grief. When you lose someone close to you, your world totally changes and it is surreal. People you know go about their business as though nothing has happened. I almost want to stop them and say ” don’t you realize everything is different now?”. Then I remember it is not for them.. only for me. I am in a world that I don’t recognize because my husband is with the Lord now. At the same time, the world itself turned upside down several times.. last March and actually yesterday was a day like none other.

Back to the world of grief.. I often wake up and wonder where I am.. I moved 3 times in just a little over a year and most of the things I looked at and used for 18 years are gone.. I have days when I wonder if I could find them all.. a strange thought since many of them are in Idaho and lots of things are here in different homes of friends and family and some went to strangers through the Goodwill store.. My world turned upside down three times and then Steve passed 4 months ago and my life disappeared.. the life where I spent every day for years looking out for him and taking care of him .

So I have fallen into the rabbit hole and I continually find myself wondering where I am.. It is easy during a grieving season like this to feel lost or crazy .. or just totally different from other people. All of these things are true.. except that I am not crazy.. I am grieving deeply and fully.. Trying to make sense of a world that makes no sense.. trying to feel at home.. when home to me was my husband.. anywhere he was.. that felt like home.

Covid could be making your feel like you fell down that same hole. Maybe you are grieving things that are no longer possible.. For some of us, yesterday was a trigger too.. what happened to the country we grew up in? Is everything out of control? A very challenging time to be alive.. in so many ways. So.. you are not crazy if you feel scared or depressed or disoriented right now.. You are just a human trying to cope with a very broken world where loss is a big part of life.. You will land on your feel and so will I. Our God will come for us in the middle of the mess and rescue us from the heartbreak we may be feeling now. He is for us and with us.

He has prepared a place for us… better than our wildest dreams.

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Sweet Sorrow

 

It has been a week since my wonderful husband fell into the arms of Jesus. I miss him every minute of every day but I am so thankful the struggle and suffering are over. This grief that surrounds me now is a sweet sorrow. We had a very good marriage and I never doubted for a minute that the Lord put us together. He was the first person to show me the unconditional love that I needed to experience to truly understand the Father’s love and be able to receive it. What a gift. I always think of him as the balm of Gilead on all the wounds I received before I met him.

Steve was a man of few words, but when he spoke.. he said something worth saying. I learned what the phrase ” action speaks louder than words” really means from this man. He loved me deeply and showered me with that love even when I knew I did not deserve it. I adored him and thankfully because I was widowed 21 years ago, I never let him forget that I loved him and checked in regularly to make sure he knew it. It is too late once someone is gone ..

When Steve began to get sick the first thing to go was language.. the one thing that he struggled with all his life. As time went on the dementia slowly progressed and robbed him of everything until at the end he was bedridden and unable to do anything for himself. It is a ruthless disease. He went into the hospital in early Sept of 2019 and then a month later was admitted to skilled nursing.

This last year was  so challenging for both of us , but in the midst of it I saw God move over and over on our behalf. He was placed in the best skilled nursing in the county.. close to where I lived with the most caring people you could ever hope to meet. I went to see him every day for months until Covid struck our country. I  continually prayed that he would know me .. many people don’t remember their loved ones. As long as he was able to communicate at all. I would tell him I loved him and he would tell me he loved me. He never forgot me and was always glad to see me even when he became very disabled. Many believers came through this life as his journey progressed. I was locked out of the facility for 2 months and suddenly with no real explanation they let me back in.. I was the only person I knew in Marin who was able to visit someone in skilled nursing.

I spent as much time as I could over the last 4 months just being with him.. playing music.. praying and reading to him. It was a privilege to be in there and to walk with him to the end. I had Hospice support for 6 months,, but because of Covid they were locked out.. three wonderful workers talked with me each week on the phone and helped me survive.. it was a lonely road.. The grief of the last year was complicated.. I wanted it to end so he would not suffer… but wanted him to live as long as possible.. the only thing I could do was pray and tell the Lord that it was up to Him and not me.. and that I would give to Steve until he was released from this world and went to be with the Lord. He died peacefully and I had a vision of the angels coming for him  the morning he passed on.. God has provided for me in every way during this trial and continues to provide each and every day as I lean on Him for strength and courage to continue.

Thank you for reading my story and I pray that the Lord uses this to build your faith and helps you as your trust Him.

Is He or isn’t He?

Why that question? Because it is the “the” question we have to ask ourselves every single day in one way or another. Is God sovereign…and is He good? Without resolving that we cannot keep following Him. In this season of my life I have to answer that question almost every day. ..as I see my husband deteriorating from a terrible disease. Could the Lord stop it? Of course . Is He going to ? No. 

As I read the testimonies of those who walk away there seems to be something that ties them together. Something awful happens.. some tragedy that they cannot explain and suddenly it seems that God is not who He says He is. I understand their reaction. Why doesn’t He just do something to end the suffering? Do I have an easy answer ? No I don’t. The only answer for me.. is to know His sovereignty is real.. that His ways are not ours that His thoughts are not ours. 

If I should decide that I know what God should do and He does not do it, then suddenly I am God and He is not. The only safe place for me as I lose Steve to dementia every single day is to put my hope in the goodness of God. To believe that He is for us and that somehow in a way I cannot comprehend He will bring good out of this. Honestly most of the time it is impossible to believe that except for His grace. The grace that is carrying me though each and every day.. every hour.. every minute of this impossible situation. 

He is who He says He is and He will always chase after us with His goodness even when we try to run away and hide. He pursues us to pour our His relentless love into our hearts..

I am writing this with a heavy heart.. please pray for Steve and I.

 

Our favorite beach.. the last one we went to together last summer.

 

Hospice

 

 

Yes.. they stepped into our lives last week.. at my request. Steve is declining rapidly. He can still walk around and eat and he tries to communicate. Most of it does not make sense. He is only partially here.. he is also very tired and weak and unfortunately a fall risk.

How do I feel? Very sad.. relieved that he will get extra help..ready but not ready.. accepting but not accepting all of this. It all happened too fast.. only 7 months ago we were taking our last walk on Drake’s beach.. now he can barely function. Today I talked with him and told him that I would be fine when he went to be with the Lord.. a lie that is necessary.. I hope he understood. I reminded him that he would see his parents and sister there.. He responded positively but it is difficult to know if he truly grasped what I was saying.. My selfish desires to hang on to him are finally gone.. he will be restored there and out of this life where his body and mind are both failing.

I am sharing this because I need to.. it becomes more real when I write about it and it is a very real part of our lives.. learning to let go and saying goodbye when their time is getting close. I sense the Lord being close to me but I am sad and lonely and afraid of the future. There are times when I just want to close my eyes and wake up to the life I have lost.. my husband, our home .. most of our belongings.. all gone..

So.. I continue to believe that God is good even though I don’t know if right now I can rely on Romans 8:28 to be true.. It always has been but nothing has challenged my faith like this trial.. I know I am not forsaken and not abandoned but the nights are long and the tears continue to flow ..

So.. I have opened my heart to those of you who read this.. I am not hiding and I am hoping it encourages you to be authentic and real and allow others into your pain. We were not created to suffer alone and I am so grateful for the family and friends that continue to support me and let me lean on them as this long trial unfolds.

He is faithful and He is good.. He will never forsake us and leave us to face all these things alone. His ways are not ours.. His thoughts are not ours.. We see through a glass darkly..trusting Him to reveal more in His time.

Help me to cling to you Lord..on this last leg of Steve’s journey .. to remember that you knew all this was going to happen before time began..

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Upside down

 

It has been months since I last wrote on my blog.. I thought maybe I would give it  up.. but I see that people are still reading it so I am back. My world has turned upside down since I last posted. My husband’s disease suddenly worsened and he was hospitalized. He is now in skilled nursing.. all of this started on the day after Labor day so it has been almost two months. I had to move quickly and I am now staying with my daughter. She and her husband were gracious enough to take me in and let me be here until the next step is clear.

Everything is unclear.. my husband is still here but eventually this disease will take his life and I will be a widow again.. The first time was 20 years ago. Everything is different this time.. Steve and I are having a sweet season right now.. I am able to help out with his care and show him that my love is just as strong as ever.. He is able to smile and tell me he loves me.. even though he is confused and disabled now.. He remembers me and he remembers us. We still look into each other’s eyes and I continue to look forward to each day that I have on this earth with him.

Dementia is a terrible disease and it should not have the right to take the life of someone so young.. it is so hard on the person who has it and terrible on those who love that person. Sometimes I just can’t imagine that the Lord is allowing this and yet I know deep down that he has purposes that are totally mysterious in all that is happening. I am grieving for the life we had together.. knowing it will never return. I miss us.. our home, our lives our dreams. I look ahead the road is empty.. no more dreams for me.. only the hope that God will not waste this suffering.. that He will use me to bring comfort to those who will go through this and need understanding.. He is teaching me what grief feels like that is daily.. anticipatory grief.. ambivalent grief.. grief that rises up and attacks me at night.. grief that hides it’s face and suddenly tries to drown me.

A while back I started writing poems.. I never even liked poetry but they seemed to come out of the darkness and sadness.. from somewhere deep inside me.  Here is the most recent one:

The Eye of the Storm

It is totally dark

the winds blow all around me

There is no future

No light

Only a deep darkness

I am alone

sad, lonely, waiting

The road ahead is empty

He is here with me, yet I 

feel like I am falling

Keep me close to you Jesus

 

My memories of our life together are like sweet soft pillows that I lie on at night when the sadness comes.. the trips we took.. the dinners we ate.. the drives we went on.. the sweetness of our love.. nothing can take that away.

Our God is with us as we continue to trust Him through all of this.. He will never abandon or forsake us.. we are His.

Lent..again

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As I look back on my blog, I see that I seem to write a post every year during Lent.. I want to be true to that tradition and it has been a while since I posted. I always see Lent as an opportunity to reflect.. to look back and to see how God has been working and to be aware of what He is doing right now.

I don’t even remember the Lent season last year.. probably because I was getting ready to bring my very disabled elderly mother to my home. I brought her here almost exactly one year ago.. It was the day before Easter 2018.. so that was March 31st.. the day after my wedding anniversary.. I was pretty worried about how it would go and that was apparently a prophetic feeling…since it did not go well at all and three weeks later I was frantically looking for a skilled nursing facility that would take her.. I never found one but Kaiser did! What a trial that was.. then we were faced with another even more challenging situation. It was becoming very clear that something was wrong with my husband and I knew I had to face whatever it was.. we found out in May that he has a rare type of dementia..

I have been grieving since that neurology appointment and it is only now that I feel like I can say that I have begun to accept this outcome.. many nights of crying, yelling out to the Lord and feeling sorry for myself followed that diagnosis. We are now living in a “new normal.”

This year for Lent I was hoping to focus on giving up worry and anxiety.. but God seemed to have another plan for me. Instead of trying not to worry or be anxious He began to show me that it was impossible to truly get rid of those things and that I needed to give myself permission to have those feelings and others  and to welcome them as part of me.. I never imagined that as an option.. but it has helped tremendously. There is even a name for this.. Welcoming prayer..As I have tried this.. my process is to sit with my feelings, to acknowledge them and not fight them.. to just feel them and when they are less intense, I release them to the Lord.. The result has been more peace and much less fear.

It was a big shift for me to realize that all feelings are legitimate and that I don’t have to deny them or try to kill them.. even the ones I dislike.. that the Lord will enable me to live through the times of sadness, pain, grief, worry, anxiety, fear and anger. I realized at a deep level that I am not defined by these feelings or these times of struggle. We live in a broken world and when the brokenness overwhelms us it is incredibly difficult and impossible to pretend that we are not suffering and hurting.

The take away is that we are loved by God even as we battle the feelings we wish we never had. He is not going to leave us even when our circumstances overwhelm us. So I am living more fully day by day and thanking Him for the good days..or maybe just the good hours or minutes.. Knowing that this journey is full of uncertainty when it comes to our future but that we can be certain of God and His faithfulness.

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Memories

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Remembering is such an important aspect of our faith. We remember all that the Lord has done for us.. He remembers us.. our needs, desires.. everything about us.

I have lots of time on my hands these days since my only job is to help my husband in the ways that he needs it.. The condition he has affects his memory and that impacts our relationship as well.. I want him to remember things that he has forgotten and he remembers some things that I can’t remember because we were not together until later in life. With this extra time.. I can reflect on how all of this is impacting me.

I understand that his forgetting is a big deal for me.. it seems like we base so much of our life together on the good times we have shared.. Fortunately he still remembers lots of those times.. but I know that could change. Today as I was getting lunch ready I thought about this and realized that the Lord has all those memories and even if we forget things.. God does not and someday we will be together with Him and all the memories will be returned to us.  We will be restored and nothing will be missing.

One thing that my husband is not forgetting is the Lord and how important He is to us. He won’t lose that knowledge because he has the Spirit of God in him.. we can pray together even if he forgets many words..we can reminisce about how God has always been there for us even if the details are foggy.. Our God is very much in our midst and He will stay with us through whatever the future holds.

My job besides the care giving is to remember the goodness of God above all else. To dwell on all the ways He has come for me when I thought everything was lost.. to know that nothing that is happening behind His back.. He knows and He sees and He will direct our steps in this season.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
 yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.”       ( psalm 77:11-12)

Find me in the River

My last post included a video.. you have to play it on my site because it does not show up as a video if you receive email updates. The song is Find me in the River from a CD called streams that was released in 1999.. a tribute to the classic devotional Streams in the Desert.

Here are the lyrics:

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We’ve longed to see the roses
But never felt the thorns
And bought our pretty crowns
But never paid the price

Find me in the river
Find me there
Find me on my knees with my soul laid bare
Even though you’re gone and I’m cracked and dry
Find me in the river, I’m waiting here

Find me in the river
Find me on my knees
I’ve walked against the water
Now I’m waiting if you please

We didn’t count on suffering
We didn’t count on pain
But if the blessing’s in the valley
Then in the river I will wait.

The whole CD is worth listening to if you find yourself in the wilderness or the dark valley..

Blessings,

Alicia

Here comes July …

 

 

 

I actually have a very difficult time as July begins every year. Undoubtedly because this time of year is associated with two big losses in my life. My deceased husband died on July 6th and my beloved sister-in -law died on July 12th. The deaths were nine years apart, but the memories are always fresh. This year as I grapple with the disease that is affecting my husband.. the grief was triggered again.. So.. there is no way around it all. Life is about loss in many ways and the years that pass take the edge off but the losses are never gone..we learn to live with them. That is the nature of grief.

Maybe you are wondering why I write about grief so often.. the answer is because it has changed me to understand and accept grief as part of our life in this world.  God made us the way we are.. He allows us to feel sad and lonely and forgotten. He allows life to be more challenging than we ever imagined. He knows we are going to suffer and that we will cry out to Him in our pain. We live in a fallen world and all these things are reminders to us that there is more. ” All the sad things will become untrue.” I am totally counting on it..especially now.. more than any other time in my life I am longing for that heavenly mansion and the place where there are ” no more tears.”

One thing suffering does is produce a hunger in us for the Lord.. we can either pull away in bitterness or cling tightly to Him.. sometimes we end up doing both as we wrestle with challenging circumstances. We may lash out in anger and tell Him He is unfair while at the same time crying out for relief.. at least that is what I do. Today while I was sitting with my cat and reading my BIble I thought of this song from an old CD and as I played it I realized that it was describing me.. just as I am, not as I want to be.. but as I truly am today.